Segerstrom Center for the Arts 2015/2016 Season Preview Event

Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa is gearing up for it’s 30th season! Next years 2015/2016 season will feature an incredible line-up of popular beloved classics along with exciting newcomers that surely will intrigue any theatergoer. The season promises to top years past with every series a strong contender for a reason to get to the theater. This is the first year that I truly want to see every show and that’s saying a lot!

While the seasons schedule has been announced for sometime, Segerstrom Center for the Arts recently held their annual season preview enticing the entire audience to subscribe to a season! The audience was buzzing with delight as every sneak peek and song performance delivered chills. It was an incredible line up with performances from five of the season’s hit shows: DISNEY’S THE LION KING, DISNEY’S NEWSIES, THE SOUND OF MUSIC, THE ILLUSIONISTS and RODGERS + HAMMERSTEIN’S CINDERELLA.

It was by far a superior preview from recent memory with a delightful playful banter from the presenters including EVP of Marketing for Broadway Across America Bob Bucci. The preview was a snappy show with performance after performance along with the now traditional “guess what Bobby is going to wear tonight” moment that always gets a good laugh. The Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall was packed with guests standing on the very top tier. With roaring applause the theater shined with glee as it’s easy to see this will be a tremendous season.

While the preview lacked the inclusion of dance numbers or jazz performances that The Center is also known for, this year focused on off-Broadway shows. While the following is all about the list of top-shows, do not forget that Segerstrom offers so much more including a jazz, dance, chamber-music and family-fun Discover series all within their beautifully facilities.

The evening began with the lights dimming, a shadowy figure walking to center stage in near darkness. Silence ensued, the audience stiffened up, and then it happened… that ear-piercing yet most welcoming note hit loudly within the the hall, it was TSHIDI MANYE performing that ever so familiar opening song of THE LION KING, “Circle of Life”.

The night also saw a performance from an all-new production of CABARET that has been completely re-staged and re-struck for their 50th Anniversary Season. SAM MENDES, yes the guy who directed SKYFALL, and ROB MARSHALL (INTO THE WOODS, CHICAGO) have completely reworked the show with Roundabout Theatre Company revitalizing a classic for a new audience.

Orange County is no doubt excited for the debut of DISNEY’S NEWSIES. While it has been at The Pantages for awhile, Segerstrom is beyond excited to bring it a little more south, and so was the crowd! We were treated with a moving performance of “Santa Fe” sung by ADAM KAPLAN as well as “Carrying the Banner” with him and company all dressed in their newsies best.

RIDGERS abd HANNERSTEIN also have a brand new production of CINDERELLA featuring lush new sets, magical transformations, and the return of many classic numbers. THE SOUND OF MUSIC also makes it OC debut with a production that’s truly it’s own entity with a soul we always knew was there but never saw. The song featured in the preview was a bit to melismatic, yet still beautiful.

Also coming next year is a show a bit different than your typical Broadway show. THE ILLUSIONISTS makes it debut in Costa Mesa and brings together 7 of the worlds best musicians. We were presented with one of the acts who absolutely stunned the audience with tear-jerking laughter. This flamboyantly showy comedian-musician was so outrageously funny that the crowd was laughing harder than any comedy show I have ever attended. I may not be one for a magic show today, but this act sold me! While not all acts of comedy acts, this guy had me nearly on the floor laughing with perfect timing and improvisation along with stepping close to the line that it created that perfect amount of shock value yet still being near family-friendly.

I myself surprisingly have yet to see the THE LION KING, but it’s coming up soon at Segerstrom with performances starting October 6th and I know I can’t miss it this time.

TSHIDI MANYE was on the original soundtrack for the Disney movie and later appeared on Broadway with the show in 1997. She is still with the production and it was a treat to see this South African native perform this song from so many childhoods.

We had the opportunity to speak with MANYE after the show who was nothing but an utter delight. Her charm must reflect well into her character of Rafiki in the musical and truly cherishes this role. Below is just an excerpt with our panel discussion with TSHIDI MANYE and ADAM KAPLAN (NEWSIES).

Why do you think this is the time for Newsies, why is resonates well with audiences today with people who haven’t seen the movie and have only seen the musical?

ADAM KAPLAN: Yeah, I think it’s such an underdog story and it also resonates I think with everything going on with social media today and world about how the younger generation is taking a stand trying to have their voices heard.  That’s all this story is about, these underdogs that took a step forward and set this benchmark for the generation. But also I think that it’s such a great show for the teen base. …the ‘Fansies’ they love this show so much and I think Social Media has helped that.  I claim to be ‘Instafamous’… even though it takes place in 1899, it has a lot of similar themes to what’s going on with inequalities.

Building off the previous question, it was asked how their shows are relevant to today’s society and why the shows still resonate with today’s audience.

TSHIDI MANYE responded stating that with THE LION KING it’s with the culture and the mixture of cultures the story tells.  People relate to the story who have gone through some situations in their life and the show makes them think beyond them and what is a head of them and what they can achieve.

 

“The Center’s 2015 – 2016 Broadway and Curtain Call series is start to finish one legendary show after another. Each has made an indelible mark on Broadway history. Coming to the Center for the first time are Disney’s Newsies, If/Then and The Illusionists. In all new productions not seen at the Center before are 42nd Street, Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella and The Sound of Music. Back by popular demand are Roundabout Theatre Company’s Cabaret and Broadway superpowers Disney’s The Lion King and The Book of Mormon. Two bonus shows include the dance blast Riverdance and, returning to the land of Orange County, Wicked.”

Broadway Series
Disney’s THE LION KING
42ND STREET
Rodgers + Hammerstein’s CINDERELLA
Disney’s NEWSIES
THE SOUND OF MUSIC
Roundabout Theatre Company’s CABARET

Curtain Call Series
IF/THEN
THE ILLUSIONISTS – WITNESS THE IMPOSSIBLE™
THE BOOK OF MORMON

Bonus Options
RIVERDANCE – The 20th Anniversary World Tour
WICKED

Single tickets for shows will go on sale approximately six weeks prior to the engagement.  More information can be found on SCFTA.org.  All of us here at Socalthrills look forward to seeing you at the theater!

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DISNEY’S THE LION KING
October 6 – November 1, 2015
Segerstrom Hall

Giraffes strut. Birds swoop. Gazelles leap. The entire Serengeti comes to life. And as the music soars, Pride Rock slowly emerges from the mist. More than 70 million people
around the world have experienced the phenomenon of Disney’s THE LION KING. Winner of six Tony Awards®, including Best Musical, this landmark musical event brings together one of the most imaginative creative teams on Broadway. Tony Award-winning director Julie Taymor brings to life a story filled with hope and adventure set against an amazing backdrop of stunning visuals. THE LION KING also features some of Broadway’s most recognizable music, crafted by Tony Award-winning artists Elton John and Tim Rice. There is simply nothing else like THE LION KING.
42nd STREET | NEW PRODUCTION
November 10 – 22, 2015
Segerstrom Hall

The quintessential backstage musical comedy classic, 42nd Street is the song and dance fable of Broadway with an American Dream story and includes some of the greatest songs ever written, such as “We’re in the Money,” “Lullaby of Broadway,” “Shuffle off to Buffalo,” “Dames,” “I Only Have Eyes For You” and, of course, “42nd Street.” Based on a novel by Bradford Ropes and Busby Berkeley’s 1933 movie, 42nd Street tells the story of a starry-eyed young dancer named Peggy Sawyer who comes to New York to audition for the new Broadway musical Pretty Lady. When the star breaks her ankle, Peggy takes over and becomes a star. With a book by Michael Stewart and Mark Bramble, music by Harry Warren and lyrics by Al Dubin, this sparkling new production will be directed by co-author Mark Bramble and choreographed by Randy Skinner, the team who staged the 2001 Tony Award-winning Best Musical Revival.
RODGERS AND HAMMERSTEIN’S CINDERELLA | NEW PRODUCTION
April 19 – May 1, 2016
Segerstrom Hall

Rodgers + Hammerstein’s CINDERELLA is the Tony Award- winning Broadway musical from the creators of The King & I and South Pacific that’s delighting audiences with its
contemporary take on the classic tale. This lush production features an incredible orchestra, jaw-dropping transformations and all the moments you love – the pumpkin, the glass slipper, the masked ball and more – plus some surprising new twists! Be transported back to your childhood as you rediscover some of Rodgers + Hammerstein’s most beloved songs, including “In My Own Little Corner,” “Impossible/It’s Possible” and “Ten Minutes Ago,” in this hilarious and romantic Broadway experience for anyone who’s ever had a wish, a dream… or a really great pair of shoes.
DISNEY’S NEWSIES | CENTER PREMIERE
May 17 – 29, 2016
Segerstrom Hall

They delivered the papers, until they made the headlines…. Direct from Broadway comes NEWSIES, the smash-hit, crowd-pleasing new musical from Disney. Winner of the 2012 Tony Awards for Best Score and Best Choreography, NEWSIES has audiences and critics alike calling it “A MUSICAL WORTH SINGING ABOUT!” (The New York Times). Filled with one heart-pounding number after another, it’s a high-energy explosion of song and dance. It features a score by Alan Menken (Beauty and the Beast) and Jack Feldman (The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride) and a book by Harvey Fierstein (La Cage Aux Folles), with choreography by Christopher Gattelli (South Pacific) and direction by Jeff Calhoun (Big River).
THE SOUND OF MUSIC | NEW PRODUCTION
July 19 – 31, 2016
Segerstrom Hall

THE HILLS ARE ALIVE! The spirited, romantic and beloved musical story of Maria and the von Trapp family will once again thrill audiences with its Tony, Grammy® and Academy Award® winning Best Score, including “My Favorite Things,” “Do-Re-Mi,” “Climb Ev’ry Mountain,” “Edelweiss” and the title song. “We plan to look more closely at this remarkable work – to tear off the varnish of the past and reveal one of the great, fresh glories of musical theater,” says three-time Tony Award-winning director Jack O’Brien. THE SOUND OF MUSIC features music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, book by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse, suggested by “The Trapp Family Singers” by Maria Augusta Trapp.
CABARET
August 9 – 21, 2016
Segerstrom Hall

Direct from Broadway, the acclaimed masterpiece returns to Costa Mesa! As part of their 50th Anniversary Season, the critically acclaimed and award-winning Roundabout
Theatre Company is proud to present SAM MENDES (Skyfall, American Beauty) and ROB MARSHALL’s (Into the Woods and Chicago, the films) Tony Award-winning production of CABARET. Come hear some of the most memorable songs in theatre history, including “Cabaret,” “Willkommen” and “Maybe This Time.” Leave your troubles outside – life is beautiful at CABARET, JOHN KANDER, FRED EBB and JOE MASTEROFF’s Tony-winning musical about following your heart while the world loses its way.
IF/THEN | CENTER PREMIERE
January 19 – 24, 2016
Segerstrom Hall

If/Then is a contemporary Broadway musical about living in New York today – and all the possibilities of tomorrow. With unforgettable songs and a deeply moving story by the
Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning creators of Next to Normal, this “fascinating, ambitious and original new musical” (New York Post) simultaneously follows one woman’s two possible life paths, painting a deeply moving portrait of the lives we lead, as well as the lives we might have led. “Thrilling! The best musical of the year,” according to New York Magazine.
THE ILLUSIONISTS | CENTER PREMIERE
February 2 – 7, 2016
Segerstrom Hall

Having shattered box office records around the world, THE ILLUSIONISTS – WITNESS THE IMPOSSIBLETM is now coming to captivate Orange County. This mind-blowing spectacular showcases the jaw-dropping talents of five of the most incredible illusionists on earth. Full of hilarious magic tricks, death-defying stunts and acts of breathtaking wonder, THE ILLUSIONISTS has dazzled audiences of all ages. Creative Producer Simon Painter said, “We can’t wait to bring this electrifying show to Southern California for a truly entertaining experience for the whole family. THE ILLUSIONISTS is the most non- stop and powerful mix of outrageous and astonishing acts ever to be seen on the live stage.”
THE BOOK OF MORMON
March 22 – April 3, 2016
Segerstrom Hall

Back by popular demand! Hailed by The New York Times as “the best musical of this century” and the winner of nine Tony Awards, THE
BOOK OF MORMON is the blockbuster Broadway smash from South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt
Stone and the Oscar-winning composer of Disney’s Frozen and Avenue Q, Bobby Lopez. This outrageous musical comedy follows the misadventures of a mismatched pair of missionaries, sent halfway across the world to spread the Good Word. Now with standing room only productions in London, on Broadway and across North America, THE BOOK OF MORMON has truly become an international sensation. Contains explicit language.
RIVERDANCE
January 1 – 3, 2016
Segerstrom Hall

The international Irish dance phenomenon is back by popular demand in Riverdance – The 20th Anniversary World Tour. Drawing on Irish traditions, the combined talents of the performers propel Irish dancing and music into the present day, capturing the imagination of audiences across all ages and cultures in an innovative and exciting blend of dance, music and song. Of all the performances to emerge from Ireland – in rock, music, theatre and film – nothing has carried the energy, the sensuality and the spectacle of Riverdance. Riverdance – The 20th Anniversary World Tour is composed by Bill Whelan, produced by Moya Doherty and directed by John McColgan and comes directly to North America from a sold out run across Europe and Asia.
WICKED
February 17 – March 6, 2016
Segerstrom Hall

Back by “popular” demand. Variety calls WICKED “a cultural phenomenon,” and it continues to break box office records across North America. Winner of over 100 international awards, including a Grammy and three Tony Awards, WICKED is “Broadway’s biggest blockbuster” (The New York Times). Long before that girl from Kansas arrives in Munchkinland, two girls meet in the Land of Oz. One – born with emerald green skin – is smart, fiery and misunderstood. The other is beautiful, ambitious and very popular. How these two grow to become the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda the Good makes for “the most complete – and completely satisfying – musical in a long time” (USA Today).

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Joel Covey
Joel has been writing for SoCalThrills for the past decade covering entertainment, events, and theater since joining the site. He is a CSUF alum, studying within the Communication and Radio / TV / Film colleges.